Online gaming has delivered a unique way to play games not only with friends but with people from across the world. Forge new alliances, grow lasting friendships and see the perspectives of people you'd otherwise never have a conversation with across games that span multiple countries and languages. As you become part of these high-detail communities, the need for a decent Internet connection becomes more apparent. If you don't know what kind of connection you need for quality gaming, take a look at what could go wrong to keep your connection in the right.
Lag: The Greatest Enemy
A Spellfather casts a fireball spell, but his hands spin and twist without actually doing anything. A Valkyrie uses an instant ability to thrust her spear from the skies, but the icon for the ability simply spins in place. A solider fires a weapon at enemies, but everyone seems to be running in place. You're either disconnecting or lagging in this case, but if you've noticed it happening multiple times, it's time to discuss lag.
Lag isn't a term specific to online gaming, but it's a big part of online gaming culture. In computer networking, lag is any delay in network traffic and is measured by latency meters in milliseconds. Lag could happen in one or multiple parts of a network, but any delay in one part of a network can slow down the rest of the system.
Online gaming is a very large network, just like the Internet at large. It consists of the game server (which is often multiple servers in a group called a cluster), the game company's Internet Service Provider (ISP), your Internet Service Provider and all service providers in between.
What Causes Lag?
Although there are times when the regional, national or even international Internet connections can slow down through hardware issues or malicious events, the lag issue is either with your computer, your Internet or the game company.
You could have a virus on your computer using up the Internet connection, or you could be sharing the Internet with other people. For average Internet users, this is only a problem if the other Internet users in your household are downloading a lot of information. If your Internet connection is particularly slow (such as near dial-up speeds, or even the beginning of broadband Internet at 1 megabit per second/Mbps), watching a video or using voice chat programs could lead to lag.
If your Internet connection should be fast enough--such as being well over 30Mbps to 40Mbps--there is still an issue of consistency. Your router could be old and may need replacing, or the infrastructure could need repairs. The best way to find out is to speak with an ISP representative to test the consistency and the speed to make sure that you're getting what you're paying for.
Contact a high-speed Internet Service Provider to discuss upgrades and testing. If you're gaming performance doesn't seem to be improving, an ISP's technician can analyze your computer for potential problems and even put you in contact with computer repair professionals. For more information, contact a professional like those at Virginia Broadband, LLC.